Serving the ‘great unwashed’

The Doctor's Life Support for 17 December

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25: 40

So many patients in our emergency unit were regular patients with trivial complaints, often self-imposed. Many were dirty and abusive. Often these were of the less-privileged members of our society. Most of the staff saw them as time-wasters, a drain on the already pressured health system and I found myself thinking the same. However, one night I was finally convicted of this sin. One particularly vocal staff member stated that he had not chosen to live with the great unwashed so why did he have to share his workplace with them? Something inside me snapped as I envisaged Jesus the ‘image of the invisible God’ whom we serve (Colossians 1: 15). He didn’t seem to share my problem with impoverished people. His whole earthly life testified to this fact. On an average day, he mixed freely with those regarded as the scum of the earth, even going so far as to touch and heal an unclean leper and to choose an outcast tax collector, Matthew, as one of his first disciples. In Jesus’ kingdom of heaven, exemplified by the Great Banquet parable (Luke 14: 15–24), the important guests were not in the rich strata of society concerned only with worldly needs. Instead, it was the poor and disfigured who shared the Master’s glory! As Christian doctors, we have a duty to imitate our Lord and to show love and service to those less fortunate than ourselves. It is a command echoed throughout the Old and New Testaments, applicable for us as impoverished sinners ourselves, saved only through grace. (Ephesians 2: 8) In a world where ‘more is power’, such imitation is true countercultural behaviour and is the perfect recipe to glorify Christ before an unbelieving generation.

Written by Lizzie C Croton from the UK

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